• Clostridial co-culture;
  • Clostridium acetobutylicum;
  • Clostridium cellulolyticum;
  • Genome-scale metabolic modeling;
  • Systems biology


An alternative consolidated bioprocessing approach is the use of a co-culture containing cellulolytic and solventogenic clostridia. It has been demonstrated that the rate of cellulose utilization in the co-culture of Clostridium acetobutylicum and Clostridium cellulolyticum is improved compared to the mono-culture of C. cellulolyticum, suggesting the presence of syntrophy between these two species. However, the metabolic interactions in the co-culture are not well understood. To understand the metabolic interactions in the co-culture, we developed a genome-scale metabolic model of C. cellulolyticum comprising of 431 genes, 621 reactions, and 603 metabolites. The C. cellulolyticum model can successfully predict the chemostat growth and byproduct secretion with cellulose as the substrate. However, a growth arrest phenomenon, which occurs in batch cultures of C. cellulolyticum at cellulose concentrations higher than 6.7 g/L, cannot be predicted by dynamic flux balance analysis due to the lack of understanding of the underlying mechanism. These genome-scale metabolic models of the pure cultures have also been integrated using a community modeling framework to develop a dynamic model of metabolic interactions in the co-culture. Co-culture simulations suggest that cellobiose inhibition cannot be the main factor that is responsible for improved cellulose utilization relative to mono-culture of C. cellulolyticum.